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Comment Re:Torchlight 2 (Score 1) 102

Sure, I have internet at home, but I'm not guaranteed to have internet on a road trip, on a plane, at a random bookstore, on vacation, or one of a dozen other places where I'm liable to have plenty of free time and the desire to play a game.

I ran into this situation with StarCraft II recently. I had a 15 hour flight to Dubai a few weeks ago on a plane with power in the seats and was actually looking forward to the trip because it meant I could play through some of the challenge missions and against the AI. On the way back, though, something snapped -- I'm still not sure what happened -- and SCII refused to let me play offline at all, saying that I needed an active internet connection to access even the challenges.

Needless to say, I was a little annoyed. I'd like for that not to be the case with Diablo III, especially considering the game lends itself much better to single-player mode on planes than StarCraft II ever did. However, since it sounds like I'll not be able to play the game at all on plane rides, well, I'm serious reconsidering whether I should buy it or not.

Comment Re:And then there's the Catch 22 (Score 5, Interesting) 840

I'm an Egyptian who had the great luck of being born and raised in the States and many, many opportunities to go back home and visit.

From what I've gathered, the Muslim Brotherhood is a shadow of their former selves; they were really big in the 80s and 90s, but they've lost direction and momentum. I think that they're currently just a specter straw-man that Mubarak and the Egyptian government likes to throw up to help keep the opposition in check.

In other words, they're Egypt's Al-Qaeda, a great excuse for a dictator to keep clenching his iron fist.

I went back there last December to see my cousin get married. Most Egyptians I spoke about politics -- there are elections coming up soon and it's a topic everyone wants to talk about -- seem to want very little to do with the Brotherhood; they blame them for a good number of terrorist and don't want them anywhere near positions of power.

I don't deny that there's a risk in open elections -- certainly, you run the risk of electing kooks and crazies in every election. I just don't think the Brotherhood is as terrifying a specter as we think they are. At least, not any more. Have a little faith in the Egyptian people.

Comment Re:Picky, picky, picky (Score 1) 474

Sadly I can't remember what book it was in that I read this

The book is called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and it's an excellent read.

Briefly, for the interested Slashdotter, he outlines five different ways people try to communicate affection -- words of affirmation, quality time, gift-giving, acts of servitude, and physical contact -- and then says that not "speaking" your partner's love language can cause a whole lot of strife because not only can you not communicate your affection, you can't understand when they're communicating theirs.

Thanks for mentioning it.

Comment Re:umm... (Score 1) 878

In other words, the ultimate programming languages of future will be known as English, Chinese, etc.

Isn't that the point? Why are we building these machines anyways if not to make our lives simpler and easier, and what is easier than giving instructions to something in one's own tongue?

I'm actually not certain it'll be a natural human language, though. I mean, perhaps in the really long term it might be, but in the shorter-long-term (uh... say, 1,000 years out?) programming languages -- and I'd be willing to bet there won't be one language, but many, and with just as many dialects, and the machines will understand all of them -- will at least resemble the languages we have now, if only because that's their heritage. In the same way that Spanish and Italian and, to an extent English, all resemble Latin, these future computer languages are going to resemble their parent tongues.

You're right, though. The distinction between "programmer" and "commander" is going to gradually fade. I'm ok with that, though; all that means is that I get to put "Commander" on my business card instead of "Programmer." Sounds much cooler, don't you think? ;-)

Comment Re:umm... (Score 1) 878

Have you ever programmed in Smalltalk or Squeak? Neither are "text file" based in the sense that C and Java are. Instead, the language runtime is the IDE, and the IDE is the language runtime. It's actually really bloody cool when you play around with it.

As for comparing actual semantic differences vs. syntactic differences, well, I imagine it's really damn difficult, considering the syntactical construction of an expression determines its semantics. In other words, if you change the syntax, you've likely changed the semantics, at least at a low level.

I know what you're trying to say, though. I'm reminded of an exercise given to me in my intro to CS class. We have to convert a for loop to a while loop to do-while loop and back again. Syntactically, they're all different, but semantically, at least for that exercise, they all did the same thing. You'd like a language or an IDE or whatever that can tell you that those three loops are all doing the same thing, regardless of how I write them, and frankly, I think such a language/IDE/magic wand would be freakin' fantastic. (I mean, consider for a moment how often you've rewritten something and are certain it does the exact same thing as the previous incarnation and are shocked when you realize it doesn't?) I'm just not certain if you can achieve that with any ease at all. You'd essentially have to have code that understood any other code, which sounds remarkably similar to the halting problem.

There may be specific cases where this is doable, though... I can see a language like Haskell being able to provide this sort of analysis for loops or a few simple function calls or whatnot. The reason I pick Haskell is because it's, in general, a language free of side effects, which aspect of programming could increase the complexity of any compile-time semantic analysis by orders of magnitude. Runtime analysis is a different story, of course... but, again, that treads awfully close to no-general-purpose-solution worlds here.

Comment Re:Same meme different author (Score 1) 335

Eventually it all comes around but for now we don't need the middle man anymore.

I'm actually not sure about this. We may not need middle-men for distribution anymore, but we may need them to separate the wheat from the chaff. The problem I foresee with direct distribution is that there's no easy way to know what's good or bad out there (where "good" and "bad" are, of course, defined by one's personal tastes). There's value in being able to say to a consumer "hey, you liked artist X a lot, why not try artist Y?", which function, among others, I think "middle-men" could perform admirably.

To use your albeit cliched (and ill-fiitting; you're comparing about a business model to a product; the product hasn't really changed, but the business model certainly will) analogy, it may force the "middle-men" (RIAA etc. here) to change from being buggy accessory manufacturers to information clearinghouses about "buggies" and their various capabilities and relationships. A sort of for music, if you will. There's still a role to be played at that level, but it's no longer the one of art distributor.

Comment Re:containment theory... (Score 1) 1032

Just a bit of a nitpick: while I can't speak for Hebrew, Arabic has "waw" (a 'w'-like vowel) and "yah" (a 'y' like vowel) as well. They're the long forms of the "damma" and "kasra" diacritics.

I'm impressed you know about the two languages, though. Very cool.

Comment Re:Bible 0.1.1-beta (Score 2, Insightful) 568

Compare that with Uthman Ibn Affan, who decided which copy of the Qur'an would be canonical, then gathered together and burning all other copies that differed from the official version. Christianity has nothing like that.

You were doing great up until this point, friend. You make it sound like Uthman moved unilaterally and without consulting anyone, whereas nothing could be further from the truth. Even before Uthman, in the time of Abu Bakr's caliphate, there were complete copies of the Qur'an. The order of the chapters, however, differed from copy to copy. What Uthman did was gather those who'd learned the Qur'an from the Prophet himself into a committee and ask them to come up with a standardized order. The committee consulted with other people who'd memorized the Qur'an, as well as with other copies of the text, to make sure there was no discrepancy, and then created the authoritative text of the Qur'an.

You'll note that unlike the Bible, there are no alternate versions or editions of the Qur'an, and no amount of research has produced noteworthy differences between copies. In fact, most scholars, western and eastern, believe that the Qur'an contains the exact words as spoken by the Prophet with little variation at all. I doubt the same can be said for the Bible.

Comment Re:It's not the eye color screening that bugs me (Score 1) 847

Bloody hell... Nice qualifier, there.

That's like saying "There's nothing wrong fundamentally wrong with Communism (or Monarchies, or Feudalism...) if done properly.
The problem is, who gets to define "proper?" Who gets to define what traits are acceptable, desirable, or even proper? You? "The Party?" The Societal Superstructure? What's ironic is that you mention that in the past it's been driven by arbitrary criteria, among which you include eye color, which is one of the very traits one can select.

No, my friend. Eugenics is dangerous territory for a whole truckload of reasons, not the least of which is that we run the risk of driving human genetic selection based on the arbitrary criteria you mentioned. The repercussions are not just that everyone will look the same or similar; it's quite likely that it will generate more powerful waves of discrimination ala Gattaca, and maybe even more so. I can imagine a eugenics-implementing society eventually devolving into a caste system very easily and very quickly.

(On the other hand, a controlled breeding program might be a good thing... Kwisatz Haderach, anyone? *grin*. /sarcasm)

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